Tips for road testing your New Year’s resolutions

This is an image of an elite dark blue BMW sports car as a metaphor for the need to road test your New Year’s resolutions.

Road test your New Year’s resolutions

Road test your New Years resolutions

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? Each year about 50 percent of Australians make New Year’s resolutions. According to a 2015 National survey of 1,059 Australians conducted by finder.com.au, most of these failed (58 percent), with 15 percent breaking their resolution by the end of March and 40 percent by September. (https://d1ic4altzx8ueg.cloudfront.net/finder-au/wp-uploads/2015/12/Be-a-geek-and-live-in-Tasmania-How-to-win-at-New-Years-resolutions.pdf). So, apart from the difficulty starting a new year’s resolution, there is a difficulty in maintaining the change. According to this survey, this was because some people made too many resolutions (21 percent); others (25 percent) failed to monitor their progress or forgot about their resolutions (15 percent).

So as January comes to an end, you may be feeling a sense of failure at not even starting your new year’s resolutions or even forgotting all about them. Too often people might road test their resolution before adequately preparing themselves to take action. You wouldn’t generally road test a car (unless it’s just for the fun of it) before giving some thought to your needs. Then you’d probably make a shortlist of makes and models that meet your needs and road test one or two before sealing the deal.

Give some thought to what you want and how that will make a difference to your life

If it were a car you were buying, it might help to imagine yourself driving around in it and to think about why the goal of a new car is important and how it will make a difference to your life. Then you would make a list of criteria about what your specific needs are. Next comes the research to find out which cars match your needs. Then comes a shortlist of options from which you may want to road test one or two to find out which one best suits your needs. The road test is where you decide if the car is right for you or not.

Road test your new year’s resolutions

I wonder how many New Year’s resolutions get that amount of research and a road test? If driving a new car is a sensory thing, so is the look and feel of your new year’s resolution. With any behaviour or habit you want to stop, there needs to be a decision about what behaviour you will start instead, so that the new behaviour replaces the old, kind of like trading up your old car to a better make or model.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions

Your motivation might be high: it’s a new year, a fresh start, and an opportunity to do things differently. One problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are often a list of intentions, aspirations or goals, without a specific plan that’s been thought through and road tested. Another problem is that they may not be simple enough to integrate into your life on a daily or weekly basis, so that they become effortless.

Tips

1. Choose one resolution only rather than several
Many resolutions fail because there are too many made. Choose one that you most want to achieve and are ready to start now. Think about how achieving it will make a difference in your life overall. What will it give you and why is that important to you? Why is now the right time (and not next year)? 

2. Explore ways of achieving your new year’s resolution
What options would allow you to meet your goal? Beware of any “shoulds” or “musts” attached to them. You are unlikely to want to do these. Which options are you most drawn to? Make a shortlist of those. Less is best and simple actions are more easily integrated into your daily or weekly routines. 

3. Test your resolution before you road test it
Is your goal specific and realistic? Many resolutions fail because the goal doesn’t meet a SMART goal test. SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Realistic, and Time framed.
– Is it Specific? Have you said how you will do it? What specific actions are involved?
– Is it Measureable? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
– Is it Achievable?
– Is it Relevant? Why is it important to you? What are the changes that it might bring about?
– Is it Time framed? By when do you want to achieve it? Is that realistic?

4. Road test your resolution
What specific action will indicate that you’ve started your resolution? When and where will you take this action? Will you do it with someone else? Make a time in your diary and do it for one day only

5. Ready to buy your resolution?
How was it on the road? Did it handle well and give you what you thought it would? Is it the right make and model? Are any adjustments needed to your SMART goal to help you achieve it? Did anything get in the way of you doing it? What and why? What could you do about these things in the future.

6. Keep your resolution running smoothly
Most resolutions fail because people forget to monitor them. In the same way as you remember to fill your car with fuel, do the same kind of weekly check on your resolution. Plan to do it each week and check in with yourself after doing it to see how it feels. Make another time in your diary and do it for that day only. If you like it and it’s giving you what you wanted, proceed by recommitting each week, diarising the time you want to do it. Continue until it’s integrated into your life or way of being or until you decide you’re finished.

Apart from the New Year being an arbitrary starting point, any change worth making is still worth making.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good—Nina Simone

Contact me for further help in achieving and maintaining your new years resolutions. Linda Magson, Sydney Life coach and counsellor.